Krieger: McD's wisdom on trial in draft
By Dave Krieger
Denver Post Columnist
Even Carmelo Anthony now believes that defense wins championships. He said so just the other night.
New Broncos coach Josh McDaniels does not. He believes the Broncos will win or lose as a 53-man team, not because of any particular unit.
This is why he ended up taking six offensive players and four defensive players in the NFL draft, even though, based on last season's production, defense was clearly the greater team need.
Equally glaring was the fact that three of the four new Broncos defenders play in the secondary, where McDaniels had already signed three starters in free agency.
Of the 10 players he drafted, only one plays in the defensive front seven, the weakest aspect of the 2008 Broncos other than special teams.
This will be one of the two most second-guessable McDaniels decisions during the draft. The other will be trading the Broncos' 2010 first-round pick for the 2009 second-round pick he used on cornerback Alphonso Smith.
If the Broncos struggle this year, this will turn out to be a high first-round pick, possibly high enough to grab a franchise quarterback prospect to replace Jay Cutler a year from now.
I asked McDaniels about both of these decisions at the conclusion of the draft Sunday night to get his explanations on the record.
Aware that he found more value in the players he picked than in the defensive linemen or linebackers available, I asked if, nevertheless, he passed up candidates for the front seven who are better than what he has now.
"Very rarely," he said. "I don't think this was a very deep draft in terms of players that would have fit our system in those areas. . . . I don't really think you want to draft somebody just because he plays a certain position unless you feel that player's got good value for your team and is going to come in and make you better.
"So there may have been a few times where there was a discussion, but we're not looking to draft players to cut them, I know that. And we're certainly not looking to draft players early to cut them.
"So if the player's not going to come in and be able to compete and beat out somebody on our roster, or at least have a good chance to try to do that and make our team, then we're going to definitely go in a different direction and we're going to draft somebody we feel can make a difference. And that's what we did."
On the trade of next year's first-round pick, I asked if McDaniels tried to get Seattle to accept whichever turns out to be the later of the two first-round picks — Denver's or Chicago's — that the Broncos controlled at the time.
"There was a little discussion about that, but we agreed that the pick could be ours," he said. "After talking it through with the other team, we felt like, that's OK, we'll roll the dice."